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Sparhawk
04-11-2005, 05:44 PM
I am in desperate need of assistance / guidance.

I am trying to get my book into Behler publishing for consideration, but my synopsis was too long. Lynn Price was very nice about it but after reading her comments and going back and looking at what I submitted I can see the validity in all her points.

Can anyone give me some brief guidance on how to write an appealing synopsis?? I'm having difficulty condencing 400 pages into two?? SHe's been very compassionate and patient, and I don't want to F up on my second try.

Thanks again.

Very Respectfully,

Greg B aka Sparhawk

azbikergirl
04-11-2005, 05:53 PM
Try this: http://www.mlbushman.com/synopsis.htm

Take a look at Beth Anderson's Barebones synopsis. I found that page helpful, as well as the Don'ts listed on the Synopsis Secrets page.

Also, this article is worth reading: http://www.storyispromise.com/wsynop.htm

You might consider posting what you have in the Share Your Work area and ask those In the Know to take a look at it.

Torin
04-11-2005, 05:59 PM
Have you tried going through it chapter by chapter and reducing each to a single sentence or two? Good luck. I hate this part more than I can tell you. ;)

dragonjax
04-11-2005, 06:32 PM
Gah, I despise writing a synopsis even more than I do a query letter! I found Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract by Blythe Camenson and Marshall Cook to be very, very helpful when it came to writing the evil synopsis from hell.

Also, Shawn taught me a good trick when it comes to this: First, come up with a one-line sentence that describes what your book is about. (Think "TV GUIDE DESCRIPTION.") Next, as you craft the synopsis, hit the plot points that relate to that one liner only; anything that doesn't immediately serve that one-line description is superfluous and should not be included. Finally, be sure you do not hold back vital information. If there's a mystery, it needs to be solved; if there's a final outcome, it needs to be mentioned. Period. The synopsis ain't the place to hold back such info; the key here is that editors want to see that the writer knows how to FINISH a story. (At least, that's my rationalization behind it. Otherwise, editors are just sadists. :D )

GOOD LUCK!!!

Julie Worth
04-11-2005, 06:56 PM
Have you tried going through it chapter by chapter and reducing each to a single sentence or two?

Iíd say thatís the last thing you want to do. Forget about compressing 400 pages into 2. Realize that the synopsis is just a sales tool. Its entire purpose it to get the agent or editor to read your MS. Thus it should not be boring or confusing; it should not be cluttered with information. Think of it as a short story. Itís got to hook the reader. Itís got to entertain. If it does those things, then itís served its purpose.

dragonjax
04-11-2005, 07:32 PM
Have you tried going through it chapter by chapter and reducing each to a single sentence or two? Good luck. I hate this part more than I can tell you. ;)
Torin, that's terrific for a chapter outline, but it may not serve well for a synopsis, for the reasons Julie mentions above.

Yeah, synopses really suck.

:Headbang:

veinglory
04-11-2005, 07:53 PM
Synopses come in two distinct forms. The long synopsis provides a chapter by chapter outline -- the short synopsis does not. It is only 500-900 words. It may often have something like this:

Exciting one sentence overall description

describe protagonist, describe other main characters.

Outline the main obstacles, how they are overcome and what the result is.

I have a few examples and you think you might find many helpful descriptions if you search your genre and 'short synopsis'.

azbikergirl
04-11-2005, 07:57 PM
I always wonder whether to include any of the subplots. My main plot and the subplots are intertwined, so I either describe none of the subplots, or most of them (otherwise, there are too many open questions).

Julie Worth
04-11-2005, 08:12 PM
I always wonder whether to include any of the subplots. My main plot and the subplots are intertwined, so I either describe none of the subplots, or most of them (otherwise, there are too many open questions).

You are painting with a broad brush on a tiny canvas. Simplify. Think impressionism, not photo-realism. Composition first, accuracy last.

zornhau
04-13-2005, 07:02 PM
Congrats on finding a sympathetic publisher!

Suggest you set out the elevator pitch/story question, describe the main characters - a para each, then narrate the story in present tense concentrating on the hooray!/boo! aspects of the plot, highlighting but not describing, cool set pieces. e.g.




Can Janice save Brad, her true love, from the alien menance without succumbing to the evil schemes of Ernie, her ex boyfriend?

Janice, a 30-something....

Brad just wants to paint. However...

Ernie, Janice's old flame, never got over....

The three enter a collision course when, trawling the coffee shops despite her shyness, Janice finds true love in the arms of Brad [Hooray!], only to lose him to alien abduction [Boo!].

Janice assembles a motely crew of mercenaries and bounty hunters [Hooray!], but fails to lure the aliens into an ambush [Boo!].

In despair, she contacts Ernie, now a famous scientist [Hooray!], but he demands her favours in return for his help [Boo!]
......
.....
As the dust settles over what's left of Birmingham, Janice and Brad embrace.



And so on. Your mileage may vary. The usual caveats.

maestrowork
04-13-2005, 07:36 PM
Try to write a 2-5 page. Cut out all the details and subplots and minor characters. Focus on the main plot and the main characters. Be specific but avoid giving details. Focus on plot -- what happens next. Make sure you cover the major events and not the minor. Cut out as many adjectives and adverbs as possible. Summarize the gist of the chapters, and not EXACTLY what happened. Frex, if multiple things happen and at the end a character dies, don't list all the events... the important thing is that "X dies after some gruesome accidents."

Keep trimming until you have a 2-page synopsis.

At least that's what I did, and it worked.

Julie Worth
04-14-2005, 01:47 AM
Keep trimming until you have a 2-page synopsis.


Most agents want a short synopsis, but a few prefer a longer oneóup to ten pages. Rather than trying to figure out who wants what, Iíve begun including both. I figure, if an agent likes the short version, she may then also read the long version, and that will really set the story in her mind. (The short one is a page and a half, double spaced, and the long one is six pages.)